Well, it's the second week of preseason and I am officially excited for September 13 and the start of the regular season.
The Packers are developing an interesting squad that has the potential to take the NFL by storm. A plan seems to be in place in Green Bay, Wisconsin: a plan for a team with a successful future in the league.
There are some angry Packers fans out there right now. They're angry at management and former players, angry at other teams in the division, and angry at people who don't even like football and just happen to be wearing a purple shirt.
Don't take it so hard Packers fans; it could be a whole lot worse. The Packers could be a team with an uncaring attitude towards drafting felons, or one incapable of winning a single game in a season.
The Packers could be a team with a horrible owner who moves a beloved team away for the simple reason that he doesn't like the city it's located in.
Instead the team you root, root, root so hard for is owned by you; you wonderful, amazing, dedicated people who decided to keep their heroes where they belonged—right at home with all of you.
You had a plan, people, and, like it or lump it, it's a plan that Ted Thompson shares with you all. Thompson has built a strong team around a core philosophy of youth and improvement at every position. This team is vastly different from the team Thompson took over in early 2005.
Let's take a look at the main way he's developed the Packers over the last five years—the NFL Draft.
This will be the first in a five part series, looking at every draft pick Thompson has made in his five seasons as Green Bay GM, starting with the '05 draft and working upwards to this years crop of rookie hopefuls.
Here we go!
First Round, 24th Pick: Aaron Rodgers, QB, Cal.
Gee, thanks Ted. This might be the Packers most important draft pick in the last 30 years.
Ask a Dolphins fan what Aaron Rodgers means to the Packers. They'll be able to fill you in on a desperate search to replace a legend that goes on to this day. Aaron Rodgers is the future of the Packers at the quarterback position and all signs point to that being a really good thing.
Alex Smith (49ers) and Jason Campbell (Redskins) were the other quarterbacks drafted in the first round that year. They're both still with the teams that drafted them and improving. But that improvement is coming slowly, after disastrous and inconsistent starts to their respective careers.
This was not a good year to draft a quarterback, and Thompson scored huge in a weak draft class that included Charlie Frye, some guy named David Greene (good job Seahawks!), and the enigmatic Kyle Orton, picked number 106 in the fourth round.
Second Round, 51st pick: Nick Collins, S, Bethune-Cookman.
Oh, Bethune-Cookman, you old football factory you. Collins was actually a cornerback and safety coming out of B-Cook, but I listed him at the position he has held as a starter since joining a woeful Packers secondary in 2005.
Al Harris is the man, but he couldn't do everything. What more can I say about Collins, but that he gets better every year and that he's a great example of Ted Thompson's eye for defensive talent.
Collins had seven, count 'em, seven interceptions in a unimaginative defensive scheme in 2007 and it seems the 3-4 should keep them coming.
He, Charles Woodson, Atari Bigby, Tramon Williams and the aforementioned Harris compliment each other extremely well in an aggressive, often spectacular Green Bay secondary. Great draft pick.
Second Round, 58th pick: Terrence Murphy, WR/KR, Texas A&M.
Not a great draft pick. Murphy came from a great football school in A&M and the Packers had high hopes for him as a kick return specialist.
He is currently retired so you can guess how that all worked out.
Fourth Round, 115th pick: Marviel Underwood, S, San Diego State.
Unlike Murphy, Underwood is still in football—just not with the Packers. He is currently trying to make an Oakland secondary that might be the only strong feature of that team, aside from it's running backs.
Underwood only really played for the Packers in his rookie season as injuries and inconsistencies led to his eventual release in 2007.
Bad value pick.
Fourth Round, 125th pick: Brady Poppinga, ILB, BYU.
Good value pick. Brady Poppinga isn't a star but he is a very smart football player who should find a valuable home for himself in the new Green Bay 3-4 defensive scheme this season.
He certainly needs to if he wishes to remain a Packer as his rookie contract expires at the end of the 2009 season.
He's been a steady contributor to the Packers for four years and no matter what his future in Green Bay will be after this season he should have no problem finding a team in need of his services.
On a side note, the real find of the 2005 draft's fourth round has to go to the San Diego Chargers and their selection of Kansas State running back Darren Sproles with the 130th pick.
He's the NFL's shortest player (5'6") and man is he a gamer! He backed the Chargers to victory against Indy in last year's playoffs in place of LaDanian Tomlinson and won a ton of fans, myself included. Go Darren!
Fifth Round, 143rd pick: Junius Coston, C/G, North Carolina A&T.
The Packers traded Marques Anderson to Oakland for this pick in 2005 and all I can say is: good. Marques Anderson was terrible.
Junius Coston managed to start seven games on the Packers offensive line by the 2007 season and was subsequently released.
So much for that.
The last I heard he was released or not re-signed by the Lions. If the Lions don't want you, you might be looking for a new career.
Not a great pick, obviously; but the Packers did dump Anderson onto an unsuspecting Oakland team, so it balances out.
Pick number 162, fifth round, traded to Kansas City for DE Robert Truluck.
Does anybody remember Robert Truluck? I do! I had the insane hope Truluck's name was some kind of omen for the Packers season in 'O5 and that he would single-handedly fix the Packers anemic defense.
Remember, this was all based on his name. He had no career stats to back this up, and I was just grasping at straws as a Packers fan starting to smell exactly what the Mike Sherman regime had been cooking in his time there.
The Chiefs shuffled this pick to the Dolphins who selected T Anthony Alabi with it. Alabi spent a year on the Chiefs, a few out of football and was just signed to a futures contract with the Buccaneers for the 2009 preseason. Nothing ventured...
Fifth Round, 167th pick: Mike Hawkins, CB, Oklahoma.
I had high hopes for Mike Hawkins as well. His career stats are: 14 tackles, five teams played for. Currently on the Cowboys roster. Whoops!
Sixth Round, 180th pick: Mike Montgomery, DE, Texas A&M.
This is a great pick by Ted Thompson. Montgomery has earned himself a place in Green Bay with hard work and a do-anything attitude. He's a solid contributor who might find himself playing an increased defensive role with the Packers this season after years of excellent special teams work.
Aside from the overall weakness of the entire 2005 draft class what makes this a great pick by Thompson is that it's the other half of the Marques Anderson trade.
In case you're wondering, Marques is retired from football.
Sixth Round, 195th pick: Craig Bragg, WR, UCLA.
According to reports, Craig Bragg can run a sub 4.30s 40-yard dash. What I'm assuming happened here is that he outran his football career and it never had a chance to catch up.
He's never played a game for the Packers, or anybody, and is currently out of football.
Bragg could have helped the Packers at the time with many questions surrounding their 2005 receiving corps aside from Donald Driver. They certainly do not need him now.
Pick number 199, sixth round, traded to Kansas City for DE Robert Truluck.
The other half of a truly inconsequential trade. The Chiefs used this pick on Baylor defensive end Khari Long, currently playing for the Hamilton Tiger Cats in the CFL.
Seventh Round, 245th pick: Kurt Campbell, LB, Albany.
Albany? Yep, by way of Jamaica no less. Kurt Campbell's football odyssey has taken him as far north as Calgary in order to play the game he loves. He is currently a CFL free agent. Come on Tiger Cats, I know you're looking!
He never played a game for the Packers.
Seventh Round, 246th pick: Will Whitticker, G, Michigan State.
Whitticker actually started 14 games for the Packers in his rookie season which gives you a great idea of how good fifth round pick Junius Coston was. In fact, Whitticker was such a pleasant surprise to the Packers coaching staff and management that they immediately cut him at the end of that year.
Whitticker has tried to catch on with several teams in the last few years with no success; most recently he was cut by the Redskins and is a free agent.
So, what does it all add up to? Two picks traded for one player and another player traded for two picks.
There was a lot of draft day shuffling with the Patriots, Eagles and Panthers that I didn't bother to include but after it was all said and done the Packers had added 11 rookies and one veteran, Truluck, to their roster.
Of the 11 rookies, four are success stories. Rodgers alone makes this a successful draft for Ted Thompson, and the additions of Collins, Poppinga and Montgomery to the roster got the Packers moving in the right direction at some important positions.
I'll say it again. Rodgers alone makes this a successful draft for Ted Thompson. Do you want Jason Campbell or Charlie Frye starting at quarterback if you can't have Brett Favre, Packers fans? No? Strange.
We'll see you soon for part two, in which we'll look into the 2006 NFL Draft and it's impact on the Green Bay Packers present day roster.
On a quick closing note, fullback Leonard Weaver went undrafted in 2005 and signed with the Seahawks as a rookie free agent. That would have been a nice pickup for the Packers at that time. Ahhh, well...
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